Viewing IT As An Organization

Ron Hinsley, VP-IT & CIO, ITC Holdings Corp
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Ron Hinsley, VP-IT & CIO, ITC Holdings Corp

Challenges in technology to meet the needs of the utility sector

Cyber security and physical grid security are ongoing challenges because we are not only committed but required to provide a safe and reliable high-voltage power grid. Staying ahead of the potential threats is always a challenge. Also, the escalating costs of maintaining internal infrastructure are on my mind, including labor, hardware and license fees. On my wish list, I’d like to see more reliance on cloud providers for non-core systems and commodity services (such as email, server support and basic network support) done outside of our data center. Also, I’d like to see IT viewed as an organization that helps advance the enterprise’s goals by automating systems and providing solutions in order to be more in lock step with business operations.

The areas in the utility sector where solutions do not yet exist or not up to the mark, and which if existed, would've made job easier

I’d love to see a “Do as I think, not as I do” operating system and device – artificial intelligence solutions that can anticipate what our problems are, or will be, and help us solve them. Cyber security is the pain point that can keep me up at night. I’m concerned not just about attacks from the outside – we’re pretty good at stopping those. But it’s the mistake from the inside that worries me, like a new virus unintentionally introduced from someone’s USB device. I’d also like to find better ways to manage spiraling costs and better ways to satisfy the needs of the business with limited resources.

Technology trends impacting the utility industry

Cloud Computing has been around for a long time but has finally gotten more mainstream in past couple of years. There are areas of the business where this would help us make better use of our internal resources. Also, I think business intelligence solutions now in the pipeline will help us manage “big data”– the massive amounts of information coming into various databases in the company that we could mine and manage. A daily dashboard summary would be very helpful to many people in the company. And I think “BYOD” (bring your own device) systems to let you do your job anywhere on a range of devices including tablets and smartphones will be important. You can have a collaboration suite of tools that bring a whole desktop solution -- laptop, desk and phone – everything on one device. We’re rolling out Microsoft Link which can do calls, messages, video chat and presentation sharing to where we won’t need phones or WebEx. You can do a meeting right there.

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